Comparative Outline- Will lead into a future comparative essay

I can never send the links over the website, but if you recommend another way to send them to you I can send them over immediately. Once the outline is complete I will create a new order for the essay that will be due a week later. Please let me know what essay topic/stories/characters you decide to use for the outline/future essay before you begin. Thanks so much!


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This is a prewriting exercise to complete before writing your essay for next week.

For this assignment, you must choose two characters to compare in an essay.


These two characters can be from the same short story or from two different short stories, out of the ones you have read so far.

Neither of your two characters to compare should be the character that you already wrote your Character Analysis before.

Also, please, avoid choosing the same short story over and over for your essays this semester.

If you use the same story for two different essays, it’s fine, but don’t write on it anymore this semester.

Here are just a couple examples of topics that you could use.

You could compare and contrast the struggles of two of the different mothers we’ve read about so far: “Two Kinds,” “Everyday Use,” “The Secret Lion,” “Barn Burning,” “Gryphon,” “I Stand Here Ironing.”

Or you could pick two daughters from two different stories.

You could contrast the life of Sarty with the boys from “The Secret Lion” as they are close in age, all growing up in poverty but in different decades. Another option would be to compare the school experiences of the narrator from “The Secret Lion” and “Gryphon.”

Alternatively, you could look at two different stories set in about the same time period, such as “Barn Burning” and “I Stand Here Ironing,” and, of course, both families are destitute and struggling.

Another option would be to compare two characters in the same age group, such as Mrs. Johnson and Phoenix Jackson. A race-focused analysis would be relevant here.

Within the same story, you could compare and contrast the worlds of Sammy and Queenie, or of Dee and Maggie, or of Abner and Sarty, or of Miss Ferenczi and Tommy’s mother.

You don’t have to compare the characters as they are at the time when the story is set. For instance, you could contrast the kinds of opportunities available to Mrs. Johnson when she was Dee’s age vs. Dee, or, in “I Stand Here Ironing,” when the mother was 19 vs. what’s available to her daughter at 19. For both of the last options, you might have to do some online research into the specific decades, the whole pre-WPA era and other issues that were referred to in those texts. You can also throw in some Marxist perspective for good measure.

The possibilities are endless here. And for any of your chosen topics you should feel free to use any critical theory that seems relevant to you.

Just, please, DO NOT pick any of the characters that you have already written an essay about.

Here are some ideas of things to compare for your two chosen characters:


Toward your comparison essay, come up with experiences for your first subject that parallel some experiences of your second subject, or that have a similar effect on your two characters.

For instance, if the experience for your first subject focuses on entertainment, then be sure that you have an experience for your second subject that also focuses on entertainment, or the lack of entertainment, if the case may be.

Experiences must be SPECIFIC. These experiences will be your CONCRETE, SPECIFIC details for your essay.


Look at the character’s experiences and actions and decide what values are suggested therein.

Remember: values are positives, so while the experience may not be positive, the value would be.

The next two pages will have the lists of values so you can get some ideas, or you can come up with your own along those lines.


Think about where the characters may have learned each of the values. How were they conditioned?

Be as specific as possible.

For example, instead of religion, which religion specifically, or better yet, is this a passage from bible, torah, or other religious book? a commandment? TV shows or movies, which ones? Family? School? Books? Magazines? News? All of these are trying to teach people or challenge their values.


This is about conflict.
When there is an experience that does not go along with one of the character’s values, that is dissonance.
Alternatively, when you have two parties in the picture and their values over the same experience are contrary to one another, that is dissonance.
Sometimes, however, the values are met by the experience. That is harmony, which is the absence of dissonance.
However, you might still wonder why or how things ended up so perfectly? Not really dissonance, but certainly worthy of questioning and discussing in your essay.

Remember to use the attached file.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Before beginning your outline, be sure to refresh your memory on ways to organize a comparative essay.

The Purpose of the outline is to present a well-organized plan for ordering the three main points for your essay.

Of course, any new ideas that come along after you’ve already completed it can certainly be used.

1. At the top of your page, write out the name of your two subjects for comparison

2. Below that, write whether you are choosing Block or Point by Point outlines?

3. Below that, write the thesis statement. Your thesis MUST be only ONE sentence, include both subjects and the point you are making about the comparison of these two subjects. Your thesis must NOT be any form of the following sentence: There are many similarities and many differences between …


First, there are similarities and many differences between any two things. So what?

Second, you can choose to focus ONLY on similarities OR only on differences. Or you can cover both.

4. Write out your outline using Roman Numerals (I, II, and III for point by point; I and II for block), Capital Letters (I and II for point by point; I, II, and III for block), lower case roman numerals (for specific detail i, ii,…), and lower case letters (a, b, c…–if necessary).

5. Be specific about where you are getting the information for your outline. Refer to specific lines and wording from the stories, along with parenthetical citations, MLA style.

Use one of the following attachments to help you set up your outline:

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